Had Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley accidentally weaseled his way onto the set of E.R., it might have played out something like Lance Daly’s medical-drama-cum-upward-mobility-thriller about a hospital’s new resident (and resident sociopath). Not that Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom), he of the messy boy’s haircut and too-big white coat, could compete with Highsmith’s chameleonic antihero in terms of smooth-operator-dom. But this high-strung M.D.-in-training shares Ripley’s issues concerning identity (he’s literally out of focus when we first meet him) and class envy—until he meets Diane (Riley Keough), a high-schooler hospitalized for an infection. Something about this dream blond brings out a rather stalkerish bedside manner in Blake. Medicine is tampered with, lab results are switched, and once you slide further down an ethical slippery slope, you’ve got to keep covering your tracks.…
Less an indictment of America’s by-any-means-necessary obsession with success than a cannily ambiguous character study, The Good Doctor is far more content to creep you out than to offer a critique. (Still, had this film come out during the Dubya years, one can imagine the political readings and op-ed pieces the fake-it-so-you-make-it parable would have inspired.) That the film isn’t nearly as ambitious as its protagonist works in its favor, even if there’s a sense that the fantasy-franchise star, doubling as executive producer, is out to prove he can play darker roles. All those furtive smiles and his verminlike desperation overshoot the mark, however; you’re more aware of Bloom performing for the camera than of Blake performing for his superiors and society, a snafu that’s only compounded by Daly’s undisciplined direction and an eye-roller of an ending.
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